Christmas with the Cheeks
Stepping foot inside the historic Cheek residence this holiday season not only allows visitors a chance to momentarily thaw out their hands, but offers a glimpse into what Christmas might have looked like in the 1930s. Seven of the historic restored rooms are decorated with garlands, evergreens, and seasonal embellishments influenced by popular designs of the decade.
This year, tucked away in the Recreation Room, the Cheek’s most intimate family space in their former home, is an interpreted holiday display offering a more comprehensive and authentic look at a customary 1930s Christmas morning experience. Toys and Traditions: A 1930s Christmas is an inviting scene that transports visitors back in time. Guests can gather around the hearth beneath Christmas trees dripping in tinsel, 1930s stockings, and other period decorations to unwrap some of the most popular children’s gifts of the era. Some remarkable examples of Lionel Train sets, a pair of 1932 McCall Mickey and Minnie stuffed animals, and strap on roller skates are just a few highlights of the display.
No matter how charming, the antique toys on view were not likely found under the Cheek family Christmas tree given Cheekwood was not home to any young children in the 1930s. Leslie Jr. and Huldah Cheek were young adults living away from home by time the family experienced their first Christmas on the estate in 1932. However, there are specific associations with the Cheek’s and some of their Christmas traditions scattered around the Recreation Room and throughout the house. Despite there being little documentation regarding specific family customs, the Cheeks were consistent senders of holiday greeting cards over the years. Many examples of their original cards, which are tucked away in family scrapbooks, have been reprinted and strung over the hearth as an added decoration to the Recreation Room display.
In the formal Dining Room on the First Floor, the stage has been set for a Christmas meal with the Cheeks and some of their closest friends. The highlights to the festive table display this season are Mabel Cheek’s custom Royal Doulton porcelain dishware, and three variations of family Bohemian ruby glass goblets that provide a festive pop of red and gold to the table.
Toys and Traditions: A 1930s Christmas is on view until December 30.